Last updated: July 13, 2020
If you haven’t heard yet, Google announced a significant change to their “Shopping” results that have the potential to be a game-changer for e-commerce businesses. Products can now be listed on Google Shopping for free!
“Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.” – https://blog.google/products/shopping/its-now-free-to-sell-on-google
More recently, Google announced that these free shopping listing are appearing on the main search results pages. They are rolling out the feature on mobile first, then desktop. Since rolling out this feature in April 2020, Google said that it has seen a 70% increase in clicks and a 130% increase in impressions across both free listings and ads in the Shopping tab.
Google Shopping has been around for almost twenty years. It was initially free to list products and aimed to compete with big online e-commerce stores like Amazon. Users could search and compare products directly on Google Shopping.
Listing products on Google Shopping was available for free until 2012 when Google decided to require merchants to pay for product listings. This turned the service into a pay-to-play advertising network similar to Adwords.
The full impacts and importance of this change are yet to be seen, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions. For example, Google still plans to charge companies for top placements and promoted listings, and they only specifically mention the “shopping tab” for free listings. We don’t yet know if free listings will also have the ability to rank in SERP results directly.
Google also mentions that they are working with e-commerce inventory management companies like Shopify and WooCommerce to ensure companies that utilize these tools can quickly shift to selling on Google Shopping.
“And we’re continuing to work closely with many of our existing partners that help merchants manage their products and inventory, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce, to make digital commerce more accessible for businesses of all sizes.”
Why The Change?
According to Google, the decision to make listing products free again has been in the works for a while, but because of the recent impacts from COVID-19 and resulting product shortages, Google decided to up their timeline on this change.
However, there were probably some less altruistic motives at play as well. PPC expert Kirk Williams shares some interesting insights in his blog post here.
For Google, this change
- Takes a shot at Amazon.
- Raises more awareness for Google Shopping.
- Provides a way for retailers to get used to Google Merchant Center (GMC) so they’re more willing to pay for slots they want.
- Builds good-will.
- AND! It doesn’t cost them anything.
How Do You Publish Google Shopping Listings?
Get Ready! The new free option for Google Shopping will go into effect for the US starting April 27th! New users can now apply to place listings for free through Google’s Merchant Center.
What Will Free Google Shopping Listings Mean For Your Business?
This change will make Google an even larger player in the online shopping space. With far more products available, we expect to see more potential buyers searching for products directly on the shopping tab. This change gives advertisers and retailers access to more free traffic they didn’t have before!
It often pays to be early. E-commerce retailers of every kind will likely take advantage of this change over the coming weeks and months. Getting your products listed early might just be a way to score some extra visibility!
We don’t know if free shopping listings will appear alongside traditional search results yet, but it’s fair to assume that Google Shopping search results are bound to get a lot more competitive! This makes it critical to follow best practices when publishing your listings.
Make sure your product titles and descriptions are accurate, thorough, descriptive, and compelling. Think about what people who are looking for your product might be searching for, and try to utilize those keywords in your listings! Google will need to determine what products to display in a competitive landscape, and they will almost certainly be evaluating free shopping listings for best practices and quality signals like they do for paid ads. Reviews and engagement are also likely factors in organic Google Shopping results.
We are excited to watch as these changes take effect and hope this offers one more great opportunity for you to get your products in front of potential buyers!